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Music Review - 'Til The Wheels Fall Off' Bruce Smith (dm)

Bruce Smith - Til the Wheels Fall off

24 April 2019

 

Bruce Smith

‘Til the Wheels Fall Off, the new record from Austin-based singer/songwriter, Bruce Smith, is certainly sufficient. The songs complement each other with vacillating avidity and charisma, but one cannot escape the feeling that Smith arranged and produced the record with musical reticence. His lyrics are often clever and effectual, while his compositions are full of infectious melodies and skillful turns of instrumental phrase. The frustration is that the band he has assembled, most especially Spencer Jarmon on lead guitar and Matt Hubbard on keyboards, harmonica, and a variety of other instruments, is too powerful to move on such a short leash.

The record opener, “30 Days,” demonstrates that they can rock with raucous abandon, while “Terry the Texas Tornado” – a brilliant story song from Smith’s imagination – displays their deftness with subtler material. Most of the arrangements and performances, however, feel too bashful. Smith might have feared that letting such a skillful set of musicians loose on his material might have overshadowed his considerable songwriting gifts, but if that is the case, the effect is the opposite of his intention. “59 Stratocaster,” a joyful tribute to Buddy Holly, should have informed the entire record with its emotional homage to one of rock and roll’s most ribald and rambunctious originators, rather than underscoring the need for a more energetic approach.

Smith is a crafty and compelling creator of Americana music. Less restraint will liberate him and his band to more thoroughly showcase their ability and excellence.

 
 
 
 

  

 David Masciotra

 

 

David Masciotra (www.davidmasciotra.com) is the author of four books, including Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) and Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky, 2015).

To read all of David's reviews, click here 

  

 

 


 

 

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